LAURELS: Here’s Who Takes Us Soaring to New Heights

Soaoup photo, award recipients and presentersring to New Heights gr
Soaring to New Heights: from left, Cliff Contreras, Jennifer Kellogg, Interim Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Ken Burtis, Diane Carr, Sarah Sardella, Ken Barnes, Carol Matheny, Lyndon Huling (chair, Staff Diversity Administrative Advisory Committee), Viridiana Alcaraz, Ariella Cassell (representing the ASUCD Office of Advocacy and Student Representation), Maureen Stanton, Brenda Scalzi (vice chair, Staff Diversity Administrative Advisory Committee), and Associate Vice Chancellor Walter Robinson. Not pictured: Francisco Andrade, Fredna Karneges and Rocci “Rocky” Twitchell. (T.J. Ushing/UC Davis photo)


The Royal Society of Chemistry recently awarded its 2017 Inclusion and Diversity Prize to chemistry professor Dean Tantillo and alumnus Hoby “Henry” Wedler for their work to make chemistry accessible to blind students. Wedler, blind since birth, received his Ph.D. as a student of Tantillo’s.

Today, Wedler is the chief executive officer and Tantillo is a co-director of the nonprofit Accessible Science, which runs “chemistry camps” and develops study aids and learning resources for visually impaired students.


Two associate professors in the Department of Plant Sciences have been chosen to participate in the Faculty Fellowship Summer Institute in Israel. Maeli Melotto, an expert in plant-microbe interactions, and Diane Beckles, an expert in postharvest biochemistry and molecular physiology, are among 26 faculty across the U.S. who received the competitive academic fellowship.

The program links invited faculty members from diverse disciplines in the United States with Israeli counterparts at major institutions to initiate exchanges and collaborations. Participants will travel throughout Israel in June, meeting Israeli professors with similar research interests — all with the goal of developing collaborations, research projects, co-authoring articles, and establishing exchange programs between faculty and students. The two-week program is sponsored by the Jewish National Fund and Media Watch International.

Read more on the Department of Plant Sciences website.


They are Maddie’s Heroes: UC Davis’ Kate Hurley and fellow veterinarian Julie Levy of the University of Florida, honored for their “big-picture” thinking to save shelter animals from euthanasia.

Hurley, director of UC Davis’ Koret Shelter Medicine Program, joined with Levy to found the Million Cat Challenge — a national effort to save 1 million cats in five years. Today, three years in, the challenge has saved more than three-quarters of a million cats.

Maddie’s Fund gave 15 Maddie Hero Awards in all this year. Each award winner receives $10,000 for their respective organization. Maddie’s Fund is a family foundation, named in honor of the family’s miniature schnauzer.


The Office of Graduate Studies will present its Distinguished Mentoring Awards, as chosen by the Graduate Student and Postdoctoral Scholar Welfare Committee:

Richard Grosberg, professor, Department of Evolution and Ecology; Neville C. Luhmann Jr., professor, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering; Omnia El Shakry, associate professor, Department of History; and Sharon Strauss, professor, Department of Evolution and Ecology.

UC Davis soared with pride at Soaring to New Heights, with the presentation of the university’s Diversity and Principles of Community Awards, Calvin Handy Leadership Award, and Disability Awareness Awards. Here are the honorees, with remarks from the presenters:

Diversity and Principles of Community Awards

Individual: Ken Barnes, Internship and Career Center —Ken embodies the Principles of Community in his multiple roles at the Internship and Career Center, where he has served as the program coordinator in liberal arts and business since 2005.”

Team: ASUCD Office of Advocacy and Student Representation — The OASR lobbies at the state and federal levels for assistance on such issues as hunger, homelessness and loan debt, Pell Grants and immigration — advancing the principles of affirmative action and diversity.

Deanna Falge Award: Diane Carr, student affairs specialist and outreach coordinator, UC Davis Extension — In receiving this award named after a retired affirmative action compliance officer, the university recognized Carr for her long history of service to diverse campus communities — including veterans — to create a more welcoming and inclusive campus.

Eleanor Fontes-Fulton Award: Maureen “Mau” Stanton, distinguished professor, Department of Evolution and Ecology, and vice provost, Academic Affairs — This award is named after the retired director of the Office for Diversity, Affirmative Action and Equal Employment Opportunity, credited with expanding the framework of diversity and the Principles of Community that UC Davis builds upon today. Stanton has been quite a builder — in her department, in her field and, in recent years, as vice provost and co-principal investigator on the ADVANCE initiative, which works to increase the participation and advancement of women in academic science and engineering careers.

Calvin Handy Leadership Award

Rocci “Rocky” Twitchell — This award, named after the police chief emeritus, recognizes Twitchell as “a tireless champion and advocate for public safety” — as the campus’s fire extinguisher technician, and an instructor of self-defense classes and “Community Survival Strategies for Active Shooter Incident.”

Disability Awareness Awards

Viridiana Alcaraz, human resources coordinator, Student Housing — “She is very proactive in the interactive process regarding temporary accommodation relating to workers compensation. She works closely with supervisors to ensure temporary assignments are compatible with medical restrictions.

Francisco Andrade, assistant manager, contracts and grants, Accounting and Financial Services — He has “contributed significantly and on many occasions by providing temporary work assignment opportunities for injured workers needing transitional modified duty.” under our campus workers compensation modified duty program.

Cliff Contreras, director, Transportation Services (TAPS) —Cliff has a deep and strong commitment to his staff and genuine concern for staff facing serious disability and health issues. … Additionally, Cliff has stepped up and forged an agreement with Student Affairs to have TAPS take over administration of the Mobility Assistance Shuttle this fall.”

Jennifer Kellogg, chief administrative officer, Department of Radiation Oncology, UC Davis Health — “She has mentored her staff in how to navigate the process leading to successful reasonable accommodations. … Her kindness and compassion is genuine and she looks for ways to assist the staff to be successful in the workplace.”

Carol Matheny, manager Patient Transport Services, UC Davis Health — “Among other valuable contributions, she has welcomed those who need a fresh start, maintaining empathy and a supportive attitude toward her employees, while meeting the demanding and fluctuating business needs of her department.”

Sarah Sardella, nurse manager, Transplant Clinic and Transplant Center, UC Davis Health — Knowing that some nurses are limited to light duty, she has made room for them in her unit — thus allowing them to put their clinical knowledge to work in less physically demanding roles, handling case management functions at the Transplant Center.

Fredna Karneges holds award plaque; she is flanked by Ken Burtis and Walter Robinson.
Fredna Karneges, flanked by Ken Burtis, interim provost and executive vice chancellor, left, and Walter Robinson, associate vice chancellor. (T.J. Ushing/UC Davis photo)

Special Recognition Award

After presenting the Disability Awareness Awards, Fredna Karneges received an award of her own — a special recognition award for her work as the manager of Disability Management Services. “Fredna has leveled barriers for the disabled population on campus since 1984. Every day Fredna works with disabled faculty, staff and their supervisors to create solutions for the challenges the disabled individuals face in the workplace, demonstrating that compliance with law and policy can be carried out with great compassion.”

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